There are cramped offices. And then there’s the Crossroads Women’s Center in Northwest Philadelphia.
The tiny kitchen has no sink, so they wash dirty dishes in the bathroom. Paperwork amassed over many years gets stored in the basement, turning it into a claustrophobic maze. And fitness classes? Those long ago were booted to whatever nearby church could free up some floor space.
So necessity drove the center, a grassroots group in Germantown that primarily helps poor and minority women, to find a bigger building where it can expand its services.
But politics has given the move more urgency, as Crossroads women ponder the future for poor people, women and people of color under Republican President Trump.
“We think that women are going to be paying the highest price for the cuts that are coming down,” said Phoebe Jones, the center’s coordinator, referring to Trump’s plans on such things as welfare, maternity leave, and abortion. “So we need a place where we can defend ourselves and our rights and press for the change we want.”
That place will be the old Kane and Brown Hardware Store on Wayne Avenue near Seymour Street, a cavernous space six times larger than Crossroads’ current cramped quarters on Maplewood Mall.
Crossroads bought it last September for $100,000, but the building is a ramshackle shell that needs about $200,000 for a new roof, plumbing, heating and cooling, electric, lighting, floors, and more.
So center volunteers now are fundraising online, as well as planning a concert on March 8 — International Women’s Day — at Underground Arts in North Philadelphia, with proceeds benefiting the center’s expansion.
Run by the nonprofit group Women in Dialogue, the Crossroads Women’s Center is the home base for a number of activists who focus mostly on reducing poverty, homelessness, mass incarceration and the number of children placed in foster care. Groups that call the center home include the Global Women’s Strike, the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, DHS Give Us Back Our Children, and the Payday men’s network.
They aim to open the expanded center by this fall. Included on their wish list for the new center: An outdoor garden, a play area for children, green improvements such as solar panels, and a large gathering space where activists can hold meetings, concerts and other events.
“We’re trying to come together in lots of ways that will address some of the root causes of the poverty,” said Pat Albright, a center volunteer.